Iheanacho Comes To Leicester City's Rescue Again: Why He Deserves More Game Time

Leicester defeated Walsall 1-0 in the FA Cup Fourth Round
14:29, 28 Jan 2023

Kelechi Iheanacho’s second-half strike was the difference as Premier League Leicester City defeated League Two Walsall in the FA Cup Fourth Round at the Poundland Bescot Stadium on Saturday.

It was a match that the Foxes dominated but there were some concerns regarding their cutting edge as they squandered many of the chances they had and it was left to the substitute, experienced goalscorer Iheanacho to get the job done and see the Foxes through into the Fifth Round draw. For the second FA Cup match in a row Leicester have narrowly beaten lower league opposition by a one-goal margin as it was Iheanacho who was the match-winner against Gillingham earlier in the month. 

It still remains a mystery as to why Iheanacho is still overlooked to start regularly for Brendan Rodgers’ side and it’s a mystery that dates back to the start of the 2021-22 campaign. In 2020-21, when Leicester narrowly missed out by one point to finish in the Premier League top four and qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2016-17, Iheanacho played a key role in that season.


His influx of goals in the second half of that campaign with 12 goals between February and May in the top-flight, were crucial in keeping the Foxes in the hunt for a place back on the grandest European stage. Now almost two years later, the Nigerian has consistently found himself limited to cameos off the bench which has often left Leicester fans and pundits baffled. During that excellent spell in the 2020-21 season, Iheanacho was one of the most in-form players in England and no one fully understands what has happened for the player to fade into the background and it has been a regular criticism of Rodgers’ management over the past 18 months.

Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers

Walsall did excellently in the first half to limit Leicester to a few half chances. Striker Patson Daka had a number of opportunities himself but he couldn’t convert. The Zambian could have done better with a couple of them but goalkeeper Owen Evans wasn’t really tested and the Saddlers would’ve been very happy with their organisation and discipline in the opening 45. You can see why they have lost just once in their last 13 matches in League Two.

The second half started brightly with Daka winning a penalty inside the opening two minutes but Youri Tielemans’ effort hit the post to the elation of the Walsall players and fans. The Sadlers then went down the other end and nearly opened the scoring themselves as Andy Williams’ volley flew over the bar after a nice cross from the right flank.

Leicester continued to build on their strong finish to the first half by asking more questions of Walsall’s back line and goalkeeper Evans was called in for a double stop to deny James Maddison and Daka on the follow-up. Evans then pulled off a fine stop to deny substitute  Iheanacho after the Nigerian was given a promising run forward thanks to a long ball from Tielemans.

The in-form Walsall shot-stopper was finally beaten when Iheanacho’s deflected strike got the better of him to hand the Foxes the lead. While it was something that you had sensed was coming, it was a huge blow for Evans and his teammates who had been putting their bodies on the line to shut the visitors out. 

The Saddlers tried to fight their way back into the tie but it seemed as though all their energy had been drained with their intense pressing in the first half. Iheanacho almost doubled Leicester’s lead late on but his point-blank effort was straight at Evans.

Leicester did enough to see themselves through to the next round, exactly 45 years on from when they were knocked out of the FA Cup at this stage by the Saddlers in a match which they lost 1-0. 

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